Making a splash in the world of mobile service

Jan 16, 2024

Heather Sylvia always wanted a bar of her own. 

Bartending for over 20 years, she often thought about how she would run it, what drinks she’d create and, of course, what she’d name it: “The Drunken Mermaid.” 

This was a dream she never really got around to. She couldn’t imagine it becoming a reality any time soon, she said. 

But when her mom suddenly passed away around a year and half ago, Sylvia had a realization. 

“[It] got me thinking like, ‘Why am I waiting? This life's too short,’” she said. “‘I'm putting my dreams on the back burner thinking that I can't do it when, why not? … I'm not getting any younger. Why don't I do something? This is my dream. I love making drinks. I love doing it. I love meeting people. I grew up in this town my whole life.’”

And so, she had a new sense of determination.

Having received some inspiration from a margarita truck she saw at an event, Sylvia approached an old customer of hers and proposed the idea of a mobile bar catering service that would be known as the “Tipsy Mermaid.” 

That customer was Bill Harran, a friend who had made a sign for Sylvia years ago based on her original idea just to hang in her home. 

“I'm infatuated with mermaids,” Sylvia said, adding she ended up on “tipsy” as it was a bit more professional than “drunken.”

Harran, who now serves as Sylvia’s business partner, would go on to help Sylvia obtain a horse trailer and transform it into the mobile bar it is today. The rustic trailer has a clean, white outer layer that has served the business well during picture time at celebrations and it also has a window designed for easy serving. 

The business functions as a “dry hire,” which means it provides mixtures and other supplies, makes the drinks and serves them, but the event organizer provides the alcohol, according to Sylvia. “Obviously, in the state of Massachusetts, it's very hard to get a liquor license,” she said. 

It got started in late summer 2023 serving at various events, including weddings, birthday parties and even a Christmas tree farm this past holiday season. 

Sylvia said it’s simple: “We come. We serve your party. You don't worry about it. Let us take care of it.”

Sylvia said she loves to create her own drink recipes and will speak with an event organizer about its theme and what the drink preferences are. 

She added she loves to watch the reactions of people seeing and trying her drinks for the first time. At the Christmas tree farm, the Tipsy Mermaid provided mocktails and many of the customers were surprised the drinks had no alcohol in them because of their design. 

Although the mobile bar is closed for the season, now is the time to get it booked, Harran said. Though the bar is based out of Wareham, he said it is willing to travel anywhere within a 100 mile radius in the state.

“We're looking to get into vending public events,” Harran said, adding the business can obtain a beer and wine permit for the day of the event. 

Sylvia said they hope to develop relationships with restaurants that they could do events with, adding how they are also open to a future where they might do a hot chocolate bar.

She said she eventually wants to get a second trailer to run a mobile coffee service. 

“I love it. It's fun,” she said, adding how she hopes to make it her full-time job one day.

For the time being, both Sylvia and Harran work full time, serving as a manager for a dental office and a crew member for the construction company working on Bay Pointe, respectively.

Neither having done anything like this before, Harran said the two had to do a lot of research and have been working hard to get their business name out there and start connecting with other local mobile businesses. 

Sylvia said she loves being her own boss and knowing the two built the business from scratch and don’t owe anything on it. 

“Going forward everything will just be profit, and we can do as much or as little as we want,” she said. 

“I'm pretty proud of myself because before it was just a dream” and now it is a reality, Sylvia said, adding, “I know [my mom] would be so proud of me right now.”